e Tumbleweeds like the ones in Kermit, Texas | Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia
I am nine years old and walking from our house on Harrison Street all the way up to Highway 302. Kermit, Texas, 1977. I turn left on Monroe and then right on Bellaire, a long stretch that takes me to the Texas road that runs between Mentone and Odessa. There’s money in my pocket for a fried burrito and a Dr. Pepper. I might even have enough for a Marathon Bar.
Tumbleweeds amble lonely down this stretch of the Permian Basin, ironically eight miles from the place my father was born. His father chased the oil boom to this place, though he never did strike it rich. This was 1930, and so many lifetimes ago. Before Hitler and Vietnam; computers and the cure for polio. But not before Pluto, discovered one month before my dad was born. I wish Tombaugh had discovered a cure for Alzheimer’s instead of that stupid planet, which like The Monster “gives up its secrets grudgingly.”
Town and Country in Kermit, Texas
The thrill of my week, the thrill of my summer, is this long walk to Town and Country, a convenient store where I discover they are fresh out of Dr. Pepper. I decide to buy the diet kind in the light blue can with dark blue lettering. It tastes terrible, like the saccharin prose of an adolescent, but I drink it anyway — all the way home.
Evergreen trees line the park across the street from my house. There is the one I climb often. I pretend it is my home and dream of all the ways I can fix it up when I am nestled in its splintery branches, I
Some days later, I am wearing the red tennis shoes my father bought me at the Army Surplus Store on Highway 302 in Kermit, Texas. I am embarrassed that this is where my shoes come from, but I am so glad I have them.